Last year I wrote a post where I discusses the lack of diversity with The Oscars. The diversity I was referring to was with the types of films that were in contention. There was also a problem with The Academy nominating an overwhelming number of Caucasian actors over more diverse groups of actors. This year there is the same problem on both fronts. However, I want to focus on the lack of ethnic diversity because I feel as though people are very misinformed.
First of all, the general public probably does not know the process of nominating a film for an Academy Award. It is an extensive process, of which I did a speech on last year (so I am fairly well informed). Without getting into too many details, it is important to note that The Academy selects these films and keeps narrowing them down over time. It is not a requirement to have each member of The Academy watch every single release. What does that mean? Basically, The Academy will not watch most of the films that were released in a given year. This is problematic because that causes many great films/performances to be overlooked. Most of the Academy consists of old, white males who have a specific preference in the types of films they like to see (biographical pictures). The two notable biographical pictures that were excluded from The Oscars are: Concussion and Straight Outta Compton. I have not seen Concussion, but from what I have heard, Will Smith gives a good performance in an okay film. If you look at every of the Oscar nominated actors, they give great performances in good-great films. This is unfortunate for Will Smith, but The Academy surely takes into account the type of film you are acting in. With Straight Outta Compton, I thought Jason Mitchell was someone who deserved a possible nomination. He gave a standout performance, but he was unfortunately not nominated. As far as the film not being nominated, I do not think it deserved it. The first half of the film is great, but the second half falls apart a bit. I still quite enjoyed the film, but it is not something I would consider a “snub”. There are a couple of other African American or even Latino (Benicio Del Toro) actors that could have been nominated, but not too much. There simply were not too many standout performances from ethnic actors this year. This is not a fault of The Academy, but it is a fault of our society. Consider this: Ride Along 2 welcomed its cold harsh arms to $35 million dollars in the box office. This film currently has a 33 out of 100 on Metacritic which is absolutely abysmal. Yet, in one weekend it practically made back its budget. A film like Concussion only made about $10 million its opening weekend. They are fundamentally different films, but the fact of the matter is that Ride Along 2 garnered more attention from audiences. Us (society) has told Hollywood loud and clear what kind of film we prefer with African American actors as the leads. Last year there were simply not enough great films that involved ethnic actors. This is very disheartening, but blaming The Oscars does not solve anything. The Oscars does have a lack of scope when it comes to the people and the films it selects. However, if we want there to be more diverse actors (and films) then we need to show Hollywood that we want to see them.
Simply put: The Oscars is not what needs to be more diverse. Hollywood needs to be more diverse, and we as audience members need to show them that we want films that use these actors in better ways. If Hollywood utilizes diverse actors in better productions, they will surely garner the attention of The Academy. Of course, this is just one man’s opinion. I am interested to hear yours.